Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ramadhan: From a Reborn Muslim's Perspective

Taken from

Layer Upon Layer

A New Muslim Woman's Reflections on Ramadan
By Aisha Stacey

[O you who believe! Observing the fast is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious... and that you fast is better for you if you only knew.] (Al-Baqarah 2:183-184)
Charity given quietly and unobtrusively is the best charity of all.
Charity given quietly and unobtrusively is the best charity of all.
Related Links

* Ramadan: A Time to Reflect
* The Prophet in Ramadan
* When to Draw the Line
* Fasting: A Workout for Body and Soul
* Ramadan's Four Elements
* Ramadan’s Special Charity

The world truly is a global village; technological advances mean that even those in the most remote corners of the world have access to information and knowledge hitherto unobtainable.

Across the globe, people from diverse backgrounds and religions now understand that the Islamic month of Ramadan is all about fasting. However, to understand Ramadan, it is necessary to peel back the layers one by one.

Without in-depth knowledge, people could believe that in Ramadan Muslims fast by depriving themselves of food, and endanger their health by failing to consume an adequate amount of water.

It is an easy mistake to make. New Muslims often spend a great deal of time explaining to family and friends that their kidneys are not about to fail due to lack of water, and that 1.2 billion Muslims are not dying from lack of food or heat exhaustion.

At first glance, this special month does appear to be little more than 30 days of abstaining from food, drink, tobacco, and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset.

However, digging a little deeper soon reveals that Ramadan is multi-layered and that fasting has many purposes. It teaches discipline and requires that the believer gives up the pleasures of this world for the chance to reap the benefits in the Hereafter.

It also teaches empathy for those people around the world who face a daily battle to find enough food and drinking water to meet their needs.

In addition, the month of Ramadan means abstaining from sights, sounds, and actions that lead to moral depravity or corruption. Therefore, throughout Ramadan Muslims refrain from telling lies, gossiping, backbiting, and using bad words, as well as staying away from frivolous entertainment.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told his Companions that those who did not give up false speech and evil actions, need not give up food or drink. He said God had no need of one-dimensional fasting. (Al-Bukhari)

As the blessings of Ramadan descend, more layers are revealed. Ramadan is a time of extra devotion. Believers perform additional prayers and stand for long hours into the night, praising God, and seeking His forgiveness.

The mosques come alive after dark with the sound of the Quran. Muslims recite it, read it, and ponder its meanings. This is a very special dimension of Ramadan, for this month and the Quran are inextricably linked. It is the month in which the Quran first descended to earth and the month in which the angel Gabriel began to reveal the Quran to Prophet Muhammad.

Each layer of Ramadan takes on its own shape and form. Fasting flows into good manners and morals, which in turn flow into a river of devotion. The days of Ramadan pass quickly and the believers begin to reap the benefits.

Their minds, hearts, and actions become sublimely in tune with the will of God. Good manners are inherent in Islam and are part of what define Muslims as a distinct group of people.

Ramadan reminds us that time wasted in evil actions could lead to a wasted life. However, the time spent praising and glorifying God will surely lead to a blissful life in the Hereafter.

This blessed month reveals itself layer upon layer, but there is one layer sometimes hidden from the untrained eye. Ramadan is the month of generosity.

Prophet Muhammad, our guide and mentor, was generous every day, but in Ramadan, he was the most generous. (Al-Bukhari)

Muslims try to emulate his behavior by increasing their good deeds and charity in Ramadan. Believers give generously of themselves, of their time, and of their money.

Charity given quietly and unobtrusively is the best charity of all. Therefore, this aspect of Ramadan sometimes goes unnoticed.

As we peel away and examine the layers of Ramadan, we find the way of life that is Islam. It is a way of life where the worship of God is the primary objective.

Ramadan teaches us that we are blessed. It teaches us that we must work hard to achieve the ultimate goal, Paradise. It teaches us that sustenance comes from God alone.

Ramadan is about fasting. It is abstaining from evil actions. It is remembering God in all of our daily tasks, and it is seeking God's forgiveness and asking for His help.

Ramadan is feeding the poor, and breaking the fast with families, neighbors, and friends. Ramadan is praising God and praying in the stillness of the night. It is turning to God in hope of His mercy and in fear of His punishment.

Ramadan is an opportunity to take stock of our lives. It is an occasion to recharge our spiritual batteries. Ramadan is the month when God multiplies his reward for even the smallest of good deeds.

This month is so much more than abstaining from food and drink; it is layer upon layer upon layer of mercy and blessings. God's love, kindness, and forgiveness descend and humanity is cloaked in His mercy, layer upon layer, upon layer.

Aisha Staceyis an Australian revert to Islam. She currently spends her time between Australia and Qatar. Aisha works as a writer at the Fanar Cultural Islamic Centre in Doha, Qatar while studying for an Arts/Psychology degree.

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